ENGL 339 X50: Early Modern Literature and Culture: Studies in Shakespeare

L. Schechter


This class will discuss a selection of texts that represent or respond to the relationship between the family and the state in early modern England. The selected theme will allow for conversations about the early modern family as a microcosm of larger social institutions, the state included, and it will encourage a broad examination of the interactions between the private and the public, the domestic and the political. Students will read one long poem and four plays (including a play by William Shakespeare's contemporary Christopher Marlowe), and they will watch a film adaptation of Richard III. Discussions about the family will allow for close readings of the domestic space, virginity and marriage, and homosocial bonds, for example, and students will consider how these sites and conditions connect to a range of larger expectations for the public or political sphere, for the foundations of democracy and juridical authority, and for monarchical favouritism and parliamentary demands.